I praise the Lord, because he guides me,
and in the night my conscience warns me.
I am always aware of the Lord’s presence;
he is near, and nothing can shake me.
And so I am thankful and glad,
and I feel completely secure,
because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.
You will show me the path that leads to life;
your presence fills me with joy
and brings me pleasure forever.
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, Spiritual Maxims
The [practice of the] presence of God is an application of our mind to God, or a remembrance of God present, that can be brought about by either the imagination or the understanding.
I know someone who, for forty years, has been practicing an intellectual presence of God to which he gives several other names. Sometimes he calls it a “simple act,” a “clear and distinct knowledge of God,” an “indistinct view,” or a “general and loving awareness of God.” Other times he names it “attention to God” “silent conversation with God,” “trust in God,” or “the soul’s life and peace.” This person told me that all these forms of God’s presence are nothing but synonyms for the same thing, and that it is at present second nature to him. Here is how:
This person says that the habit is formed by the repetition of acts and by frequently bringing the mind back into God’s presence. He says that as soon as he is free from his occupations, and often even when he is most taken up by them, the recesses of his mind [esprit] or the innermost depths of his soul are raised with no effort on his part and remain suspended and fixed in God, above all things, as in its center and resting place. Since he is generally aware that his mind, thus held in suspension, is accompanied by faith, he is satisfied. This is what he calls “actual presence of God,” which includes all the other types of presence and much more besides, so that he now lives as if only he and God were in the world. He converses with God everywhere, asks him for what he needs, and rejoices continuously with him in countless ways.
It is important, however, to realize that this conversation with God takes place in the depths and center of the soul. It is there that the soul speaks to God heart to heart, and always in a deep and profound peace that the soul enjoys in God. Everything that takes place outside the soul means no more to it than a lit straw that goes out as soon as it is ignited, and almost never, or very rarely, disturbs its inner peace.
O Most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel,
Fruitful Vine, Splendor of heaven,
Blessed Mother of the Son of God,
Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me
and show me herein that you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Queen of heaven and earth,
I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart
to succor me in this necessity.
There are none that can withstand your power!
O help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.
Our Lady, Queen and Beauty of Carmel,
pray for me and obtain my requests!
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands!
Lawrence of the Resurrection, B; De Meester, C 1994, Writings and Conversations on the Practice of the Presence of God, translated from the French by Salvatore Sciurba, OCD, ICS Publications, Washington DC.
All scripture references are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America as accessed from the Bible Gateway website.
Don’t become discouraged and give up prayer, says St. John of the Cross. We offer varying novenas to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as well as novenas to St. Joseph, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, and St. Edith Stein.Let us unite in prayer